La comedie humaine as enacted by the publishers, editors and reporters of the New York Times: a drama that begins near the end, interweaves the individuals and events of seven decades and looks to the future, all the while revealing what makes a newspaper mesh, what made the Times preeminent. Pivotal are Managing Editor Clifton Daniels and longtime Washington columnist James Reston, the former, in 1966, Olympian umpire of the departments, the latter, in 1968, shirt-sleeved coach and sparkplug of the staff. The three day's crisis that undercut Daniels and his allies (via the publisher's reversal of his decision to appoint their candidate chief of the Washington bureau) and shortly brought Reston to New York as top man climaxes a long conflict of personalities and priorities that involves several other well-known names. As detailed by Talese (vide Management and Machiavelli in Punch Sulzberger's office and ""of course, his mother"" at home), the atmosphere crackles. No less fascinating are the reporters reported: future front pager McCandlish Phillips applying for a job (""It is true that I am not a college graduate, but I am literate and articulate and I dwell in the realm of ideas""), later confronting neo-Nazi Daniel Burros with the fact of his Jewishness in a seedy luncheonette; also Tom Wicker ""literally seeing a rumor travel"" in Dallas, John Corry used and abused covering the Kennedy-Manchester affair. With asides: the discomfort of being a Jewish-owned journal (e.g. Jewish first names suppressed in by-lines, as per A. H. Raskin);""the control of news display"" as the crux of editorial power; interpretation vs. straight reporting and, especially in Washington, cronyism vs. criticism, national security vs. the national interest. By a former staffer, the unauthorized authoritative life of the Times.